An important item to take to the bank


Mar 11, 2001
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An important item to take to the bank

By Tim Renken, St. Louis Post Dispatch

03/28/2002 02:01 AM

If you fish from the bank, you probably should know more about bobbers than most anglers do.

First of all, don't call them bobbers, they're floats. That's what the British call them and they know a lot more about bank fishing than we do.

Second, discard those plastic snap-on things that most of us use. Their only advantage is they're cheap. They don't do the job for a number of reasons.

Most of the wisdom here was derived in an interview several years ago with Mick Thill, a British-American who has competed in big-time fishing tournaments in Europe. He has developed and sells a line of fishing floats, which are available at most tackle retailers.

Thill says that intelligent use of floats would help most anglers catch more and bigger fish.

The problem with the ubiquitous snap-on bobber, he says, is that it casts poorly, has too much buoyancy for most applications, is blown about by the wind and is moved about by current. Plus, he said, it isn't nearly sensitive enough.

Regarding aerodynamics: Thill said properly designed floats fly like an arrow, helping to carry the rig where the angler wants it to go.

With too much buoyancy, the bobber bobs about too much on the wavelets and also catches the wind, he said.

And it isn't nearly sensitive enough to detect the faint bites characteristic of many kinds of fishing, especially winter fishing.

Thill said not even the best floats do everything, so he recommends floats designed for specific jobs.

Floats that resist wind drift, he said, are designed so that when they are properly weighted, their bulb part is underwater. Only a thin, brightly colored spire sticks up and that catches almost no wind.

The spire on those floats, incidentally, is marked with bands of different color. Those bands come into play when the float is rigged to detect what Thill calls a "lift bite." Crappie are notorious for lift bites because of their tendency to mouth the bait and simply hold it.

Detecting this subtle bite requires that a small split shot be fastened to the line directly above the hook. The rest of the weights that hold the float down properly are placed further up the line. When the fish takes and holds the minnow, it removes the weight of that one shot from the float and allows it to rise slightly. Those bands help the angler see that small rise.

Some specialized floats also help keep the bait in place in a current. Some are even more sensitive to light bites than the traditional quill.

Some floats, called "slip" floats, allow the line to slide through so that the angler can set the float to fish at any depth, yet can cast the rig easily.

Thill said his floats represent 200 years of development in Europe, "where fishing pressure is much more intense than here and where the fish tend to be much more educated."

He said that increasing fishing pressure in the United States demands that anglers learn European methods.

"You'll catch bigger fish if you aren't using a float that is always spooking them," he said.

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